‘Well,’ she said, ‘Thank you very much. I’m flattered. If you think that they’re okay for display I’m chuffed.’
‘Hey, listen,’ Tony said, ‘You need to believe in yourself more. I could see your potential when you brought your portfolio in back in February. What are you doing on Sunday afternoon?’
‘Have you got another outing lined up?’ she asked.
‘Yes and no,’ he answered. ‘How would you like to come and have your Sunday lunch with me and the family. We want to thank you for all your hard work and my grandparents are eager to meet you too.’
Late July 2015
Meet the Family
Sunday lunch had been arranged at a hotel just outside Codmanton. They’d booked a small function room to enable comfortable service for the party of eleven adults. To Mel it seemed like a gathering of the clan. Other than Tony, Lucy and Jamie, they were to be joined by Jamie’s sister, Tracy, Jake, her husband and baby Elaine. Duncan, Jamie’s great grandad, Alec and Carol, his dad’s parents, and Neil and Fiona, Lucy’s parents were the older contingent. The only time that Mel had ever seen such a family meal had been one Christmas, at home some years ago.
She had heard her dad mention the place. He and her mum had attended business-related functions there on a couple of occasions, but she had never been there herself. It was a former manor house with a grand entrance and magnificent tall, Georgian windows. It was set among sixteen acres of wooded and lawned grounds. Her dad had driven her there, and when she got out of the car, she could hear a peacock’s shrill cry. She was both impressed and concerned that she might be under-dressed.
Mel still visited her own grandparents, on both sides, quite often – but seldom saw all four of them at once. She’d bought a dress especially for this occasion – it was the only dress in her wardrobe. Even her work clothes were all separates – mix and match. On the Saturday afternoon, she’d been to the hairdresser – again this was not a regular occurrence. She tended to look after her own hair as much as she could. Her shop earnings were better than social security topped up by cash-in-hand pub work, but professional hairdressing was, for her, a luxury expense.
She was keen to make a good impression. She’d really enjoyed the Sunday outing and the interest her images had aroused. She was looking forward to the possibility of working with a magazine. Other than submitting her work on her own initiative for consideration, this was the nearest that she’d come since university to work as a professional photographer. Mel hoped for more opportunities like that.
As it turned out, she had nothing to worry about. The older generation were pre-disposed to like her based on everything that they’d heard from Tony and Lucy. Duncan, the founder member of the family business and a trained photographer himself, was keen to discuss some of Mel’s images that Tony had shown him.
Jamie’s sister’s interest lay in a different direction. She’d heard her brother praising Mel and had wondered whether his interest was more than professional. Her mum hadn’t thought it likely, but Tracy wanted to see for herself – and if she were to see any unusual interest on either side, she wanted to assure herself that it would be a good thing.
Mel arrived after Tony, Lucy and Jamie but before anyone else. She was pleased – she hadn’t wanted to be the last to arrive and to have to make excuses. Lucy told Mel that she looked lovely, and Mel returned the compliment. Tony asked Mel what she’d like to drink, and she asked for a fruit concentrate drink – she’d decided to try to keep a clear head. Getting bladdered in front of strangers was bad enough in any circumstances – let alone in front of your boss’s family.
‘Why don’t you and Jamie find somewhere to sit with your drinks to wait for everybody,’ Lucy said, ‘somewhere that’ll give us room to spread out preferably until we get asked to go to our table.’
One of the pub staff at the bar seemed to have been listening – she called to a passing waitress and asked her to show Jamie and Mel a suitable place – close to the room that had been reserved for the party. Mel followed the waitress with Jamie, suspicions aroused as to the possibility of matchmaking going on.
A couple of week’s ago, I went to New Brighton – a resort on the north Wirral coast in Merseyside to photograph the sunset. There was too much cloud to see the actual Sun, but I liked the light anyway. This first photo in the series shows the Liverpool waterfront skyline, on the opposite bank of the River Mersey.
I used my Pentax K-1 36 MB full-frame camera with a Pentax 70-200 mm f/2.8 lens. The EXIF data were shutter speed was 1/125seconds at f/9 and 150 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was hand-held and post-processed in Lightroom.